Letting Bygones Be Bygones.

I believe in the power of words, and that certain books can change your life. I’ve learned that books call to me when I’m meant to read them, when I’m ready to sit with my journal and let the words inspire or teach me as I explore what happens next.

When Sonia Choquette’s book, “Grace, Gratitude and Gifts” attracted my attention, I could have dismissed it, as I’d tried to read another book by her but had ended up setting it aside. But I have learned to trust my intuition – and I’m glad it did, for man, did change happen, and here’s how!

 

1. Losses create space for the lessons your soul needs

The introduction explained how she wrote the books, through automatic writing. I ask God to bless my writing now, but this was a step beyond that – it was asking God to write through you. In my journaling classes and coaching, I sometimes suggest “stream of consciousness” writing, where you just put pen to paper and see what happens for a few minutes, without judging it at the time. It can be surprising what happens in three minutes. This, however, was a much more deliberate process – one that acknowledged and accepted outside help.

So for the first time ever, I did as she suggested – and asked my Spirit Guides and Angels to guide my writing, covering me in light and love as they did this. I had no idea what would happen when I started to write, and I didn’t expect to find it was the words that came were the story of the end of my first marriage.

A story that is all-ways my story in the same way all the other players have their story and version of events, but I can only tell my own story, with respect for theirs. The story poured out, but in a different way than I’d expected. It was still a story of three people in a marriage, invisibility, a dutiful wife on a lonely pedestal with lots of masks and lists of what not-to-do’s. A story of someone thinking they were living from the light but where all the light got snuffed out so all I saw was a tunnel with no light at the end, darkness. I was unseen, unheard, and unloved, a woman with no boundaries who was fenced in by her culture and beliefs but who found that a culture cannot box you in or stop your heart seeking love and appreciation, for it is love or fear that drives us almost anywhere. It was also a story of a darkness that was almost self-extinguished in despair, where hope could not be found and options could not be seen. It was a story that meant that appreciation was the spark that meant I’d lose my home, my job, my community, my church communities, and almost all of my friends – but as my youngest daughter said when I shared this all with her for the first time, it was a story where I had lost myself. It was a story that still defined me, as I was stuck there with the glues of regret and shame, guilt and anger, hurt and fear. But as I wrote, the story unexpectedly moved to the future – and I was grateful for losing all of these things as well as who I had been, because it created space for all that is so good in my life. I found that this gratitude and perspective gave me much peace.

2. Opening and Closing Doors

Yet that night, I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t feeling well, but it wasn’t that – it was the really strong smell of faeces, like the toilet was blocked, and a feeling of overwhelm and heaviness. I was sure the others in the house could smell it, it was so strong, yet no-one commented on it, so I didn’t feel I could. When I’d put my head on the pillow, it was particularly strong, so sleep escaped me. At 2 a.m. in the morning, I googled it – and read that smells like this might suggest evil or negative spirits and at that point, this made perfect sense to me given how I was feeling.

So I prayed for protection and searched for an answer again, and found blessings/prayers to use to protect me and my family and house – and the smell disappeared and I slept. This happened again the next night, and I did the same and commanded whatever was there to go, as I was living in love and light and peace and joy and there was no space for it. I felt that in asking my spirit guides and angels to work through me, I had also opened an energetic door where things that were less than totally positive could enter. I needed to shut this door firmly, so I did.

3. A Profound Experience in Grace

The book is a series of daily readings, mantras, prayers and blessings. On my third morning, with my heart cracked open, I read this.

“I humbly ask you to bestow your all-empowering grace upon me this day so that I find the power to forgive those who have hurt or injured me in the past, even though I still feel the pain of their injuries to me. Allow me the grace to stop dwelling in the past, and to release all moments from my mind and emotions where I have perceived myself to be wronged and felt hurt, whether or not the events that passed were meant to personally assault me. I humbly ask for your holy grace to give me the ability to let bygones be bygones, and to free my mind permanently of any memory of wrongdoing, whether at my expense or caused by me. I ask for your holy grace to release me from all guilt or shame that is the result of my own wrongdoing or wrong thinking in the past, so that I may forgive myself fully and learn from my mistakes but not be held hostage by them.”

As I read on, I actually felt that prayer in every fibre of my body; it was a prayer from my heart. And amazingly, wonderfully, I found myself forgiving many of the key figure who had hurt me, and letting bygones be bygones. More than that, I found myself blessing them and asking that they would also all love, light, peace, happiness – and love. It was a profound experience in grace that I am still smiling at – and this too is my story. Namaste

Every day is the best day in the year

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day,
and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt, crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a
new day;
begin it well and serenely,
with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Haven

The best laid plans

At the beginning of this year, I said that THIS year was going to be my year of knowing a healthy balance and outrageous joy.  I set myself a theme for the year based on what I find in my journals from the year before rather than making a list of New Year’s Resolutions, and it works well.  Normally. 

Time Tardis

My year of  “healthy balance” turned out to be the busiest of my life.  Ever; and that’s pretty impressive for someone who has been told that she lives in a Time Tardis with 48 hours in her day.  Except managing to squeeze even more into my life isn’t necessarily impressive (and has meant some things that are really important to me, like family, friends and spirituality have been somewhat squeezed out).

Let me tell you that had I not had this theme to return to constantly, I don’t think I’d have handled the pressure this year brought.   When I came up with that theme, I couldn’t ever have expected my year to unfold in the way it did, so I became a campaigner,  for a while forced into the spotlight and going down a route I never saw when I resigned as a JP.  All I wanted to do was get people talking about where our society is failing us, and our young people.  I was only ever going to be a reluctant face at the forefront of any campaign; I’m always happier in the background of any party, even my own.  Which is funny as I did end up standing for my own “party” as an MSP! A route that I went down after requests to do it and in the end I realised I couldn’t lose if I did stand, as it would keep attention on the issues – which it did, and in all sorts of ways I could never have anticipated! And I don’t regret any of it, even the lessons I learned, or the fractured ankle which I realised in hindsight gave me breathing space when I had none.

My Path

My only problem was other people’s expectations.  I forgot that I lived for 40 years doing what other people expected me to do before deciding to walk my own path – and I fell back into that pattern.  Up until two weeks ago I was really struggling with all I wanted to do and what was expected of me, getting to the stage where I just could not think and I could not see how all the parts of my life could be integrated.  With Lee’s support, we chose to go on a two week holiday to two out of the way places in Scotland just so there wasn’t much to do and so I’d have time to think, and journal.  I knew I needed a haven – and I found several.  In the space they created, and with the magic of journaling, I found my answers.  I realised my ultimate purpose is to inspire, nurture and encourage (pretty cool that these happen to be the last three initials in my name, eh?); and that includes ME.  There are others who are taking the fight on knife crime and sentencing forward with more skill and energy than I can (thanks to Campaign for Change).  I will continue to keep this in the public eye where I can, but I know now my heart (and therefore my true ability to make a difference) is in supporting some of the victims of crime and in getting involved in projects that change hearts. 

Serendipty

I also know that is only one hat I will wear, as my main focus will be on journaling and happiness.  I’ve had all sorts of amazing adventures and experiences of serendipity as well, confirming this is the path I need to walk (including finding I was staying at a place called the Haven, and sitting down on a bench to enjoy the sun, getting chatting to the lady on the next bench and finding out Anthea was a retired behavioural psychologist running a stress course on the island.  Which I attended the last day of, as others had pulled out due to other commitments – which created the space for me!)  This is my path, not the path others would want for me, but my path.  And I’m loving it.

My Haven

And – you heard it here first. One day – and I don’t know how, but that really doesn’t matter – I’m going to run a Haven.  A place where people who’ve got to overload or who can’t cope with life as-it-is-at-that-point can come to reconnect with themselves or find peace and calm.  I’m also going to live by the sea.  I’ve come off the roundabout that was life for a while, and finding a healthy balance.  I know there is more to life than making it go faster, so I’m just enjoying the way my life is unfolding, the new friends I’m making, the fact that that one step is leading to another…. and I’m beginning to know outrageous

Slow down, you’re moving too fast!

Slow Down, You’re  Moving Too Fast
 
I live my life in the fast lane and I’ve done this for more years than I care to remember.  I think it started around 1990 when I found myself caring for four children who were five and under, and an elderly aunt who had a stroke that affected her physically and mentally.  I lost any opportunity for time for me, apart from one afternoon a week when I got someone from Crossroads to give me  a break from the care, when I could then at least focus on the children.  It was hard in hindsight but when you’re faced with these things, you just do it – and I learned to squeeze “me” time in by locking the bathroom door when I went to the toilet just so I could read a line or a sentence in a book.  The habit of squeezing things in “now” because I didn’t know when I’d got the chance again began – and was honed so well over the years that some friends told me I had 48 hours in my day, or lived in a Time Tardis.  I could do it all, and much of it at the same time.  I may not have officially belonged to a circus (though it felt like that many a day) but I was a fantastic juggler.  Exasperated a colleague sitting near me one day asked, “do you ever just do nothing?”
 
Doing Nothing?
 
Me. Do nothing? Alien concept; even more so with an Iphone with it’s various Apps, with the chance to check Facebook, emails, Twitter accounts, read books, check the news on one of 20 sites, play games.  So when I said this year was going to be a “year of balance and outrageous joy,” I headed straight into the busiest 12 weeks of my life, and found I could find even more space for “doing,” – but not for balance, and not for being.  I’m a doing person, not a being person – and I know now that there needs to be a balance in that as well, and I’m grateful for the friends and family who’ve been frank with me about my schedules, and to the Universe for intervening and enforcing rest through my fractured/bruised ankle.  Hey, if you don’t listen, the Universe makes you, and I should know that by now!  And not just because I’m reminded often that I’m a “human being not a human doing.”
 
I needed that time out, to think through what I was going to do next, which of the many hats in front of me I would choose to wear, if any – because there were lotsof hats to choose from.  I don’t think I’m ever going to be a person who just does one thing; I’m naturally very curious and therefore also find it harder to focus – and am envious of my friends who focus easily.  There is so much I could do – but not all of it will be right for me, and when I got frustrated at the not-knowing, my friend Jane wisely told me to see this period as a time of fallow, to let the earth rest.  Soon enough, she said, it would be clear what was going to grow.  And she was right; she often is.  I can see that there are three clear strands to what I will do, with Hearts Matter focussing on interventions to change behaviours, with Heart of Journaling\Happiness Virus focussing on journaling and happiness (and bringing them both together), and then my regular job which I still love to do.  The three hats look quite nice, I’ve just some more figuring out to do.
  
 
Taking Time To Figure Things Out
 
We all need to figure out things or else life just constantly surprises us.  My view is that there’s enough that can happen that you haven’t planned for so you should plan what happens next to a degree, with one eye on the fact it call change in a second.  A phonecall, a knock on the door – or whatever else life brings to us – can change everything.  So while that’s also a reminder to start working on your bucket list rather than looking at it in it’s nice frame, it’s also about being conscious enough of life passing by that we make what we can of it.  And what makes each of us happy or fires up our passion is as unique as we all are.  It’s taken me many years to start to learn this lesson – some people instintively seem to know that you need to build time into your life to figure things out.  Like Max – who’s 8 years old. He’s the autistic cousin of Jan Phillips (and like me, you can follow her Museletter at www.janphillips.com).  At a family reunion last year, when it was time for the kid’s games, he just sat looking at the clouds, so she went to him and said, “”Hey Max, aren’t you gonna get in the races?” 
 I’m afraid I made too many friends,” he said from up on his rock.
“Too many friends? How’d that happen?” I asked.
“Do you realize every single person has a totally unique personality?” he said.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Well how am I supposed to deal with that if I have too many friends? I have to take a rest for awhile to figure things out.”

 

Then she says he happily glanced back up toward the clouds to do his figuring. They say it’s little children who lead us – and so I’m off to look at some clouds, – and to spend a little more time just figuring, looking for fun, and feeling groovy.

An Extraordinary Life

Jack Canfield says “if you make a commitment to read one book a week, review what you have read, and apply at least one thing you learn from each book, you will be miles ahead of everyone else in creating an extraordinary life.”

I probably read two or three books s week. Not all are personal development but I love how such books stretch my mind, give me an alternative view and options or give me at least one thing to learn from them. If you’ve not tried reading personal development books before, here are 52 I would recommend, in no particular order. Some people call this self help, some people hate that phrase. My view is that I don’t have all the answers, and that personally I can do with all the help I can get even if that includes helping myself 😉

1. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
2. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
3. Success Principles by Jack Canfield
4. Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers
5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
6. How to Have Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
7. How To Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
8. Your Best Year Yet by Jinny S. Ditzler
9. Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch
10. Screw it, let’s do it by Richard Branson
11. How To Read Body Language by Barbara and Allan Pease
12. Eat that Frog! by Brian Tracey
13. Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck
14. Stand Up For Your Life by Cheryl Richardson
15. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
16. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
17. The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley
18. The Jelly Effect by Andy Bounds
19. Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson
20. The Charisma Effect by Andrew Leigh
21. The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer
22. Self Esteem by Gael Lindenfield
23. If This is a Game, Then These Are the Rules by Cherie Carter Scott
24. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
25. Fulfilled by Deirdre Bounds
26. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy
27. Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Ramen MD
28. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
29. Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson
30. The Purpose of Your Life by Carol Adrienne
31. Infinite Possibilities by Mike Dooley
32. The Key by Joe Vitale
33. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
34. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
35. You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt
36. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
37. Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton
38. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
39. Zest for Life by Dawn Breslin
40. The 7 Rules for Success by Fiona Harrold
41. Use Your Head by Tony Buzan
42. Spiritual Intelligence by Danah Zohar
43. One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard
44. Fish! By Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul and John Christensen
45. Chicken Soup for the Soul series
46. The Power of Now by Erkard Tolle
47. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
48. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
49. The Road Less Travelled by Scott Peck
50. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach
51. Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom
52. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

The Boxiness of Boxes

This morning, I watched a video of a cat who knew he was a cat! Check him out on You Tube; he’s called Maro. And he knows how to live life at a slow enough pace to enjoy life – and he revelled in the happiness that small things bring. For him, as he dive-bombed into various empty boxes, he was just loving the little things like the “boxiness of boxes,” as Rachel put it.

It’s a rare talent. GK Chesterton lived his life like that. He was a prolific writer and social/political commentator who was defined by those who knew him as the personification of gratitude. In fact, before he died, he said the one thing he would pass on to the world would be to understand how important gratitude was – and how strongly it was linked to minute-by-minute happiness. (Way before his time as scientists have only relatively caught up with that). It was this minute-by-minute focussing – a form of mindfulness – that meant that every minute, there was something for him to be grateful/happy for. So well did he live this that he would often forget where he was – or supposed to be, as he had lost himself in the wonder and joy that little things like an ink blot and “inkiness of ink.”

Mindfulness, little things and happiness. Now, there’s my thought for the day …..

Vulnerability

Well, I guess if I say I’m going to allow myself to be vulnerable, I have to cope with the anxiety that brings.  The not sleeping with various thoughts in my head of “oh my goodness, what if people hate it”, “what if they think I’m.. (fill in a myriad of blanks), what if I’m being stupid.  What if really bad things happen and I’ve put myself out there and then can’t practice what I preach? Or don’t.  On the basis of my post yesterday (reposted in a few other places) what about those who just read it and went “oh for goodness sake” or “she’s talking a lot of nonsense” or “who does she think she is?” Aye, that was a biggie.  And then I realised as I was driving along that I was simply focussing on negatives, and wasting energy, particularly on the imagined negatives.  I’m not going to inspire everyone; not everyone will agree with what I say or like what I say – or like me.  And now that is actually ok – there are many who will, and that’s what I need to concentrate on!  And then I thought about the email I’d sent out with the numerology information asking for feedback on it; I know that was risky as I was asking people to be honest with me; if they agreed with the negatives, they were to tell me, as there are things in my life that I can’t see that may need changing.  And yet, the one thing that really staggered me was that the point I totally accepted – that I needed to work on my compassion – was the point universally that people did not agree with.  Of all the feedback I got, that was the most surprising part – I’m already compassionate.  Yet I didn’t see it – and I saw clearly this morning that I didn’t see what I wasn’t practising for myself.  Well there you are.  I stated I was prepared to be vulnerable, and now I’m beginning to see why there ARE gifts of imperfection, as Brene Brown writes about.  I would not have put two and two together had I not risked asking people for their opinion of me – or risked accepting what they had to say.  Whew, this is a steep learning curve for me at the minute!